Friday, January 20, 2023

Day One in Berlin

My wife and I used to have a hard rule about dining while traveling, no chains, no restaurants that we have at home. It seemed like a good plan; it allowed us to find really amazing places like the “Fox and Goat” outside of Oxford England.

The Fox and Goat, we were lucky to find a great place to eat on day 1 of our England trip

It was on that trip in 2019, we found ourselves on the highway heading back to Oxford, hungry, tired and in search of anything to eat. We finally exited at a turnout along the highway and found something to eat. You can read about that in this blog entry: Food on the Fly: A French Burger in England? It Could Happen We ended up eating at the McDonalds in the turnout. I was actually pretty happy with the “International” burger that I had.

That experience led us to having breakfast at the McDonalds next to our hotel on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. Food on the Fly: Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam Wonderful Spam!


So tonight we found ourselves in Germany, short on cash, not able to find an ATM and not sure if our credit cards would be accepted. Once again tired and hungry, we turned to our old friend Mickey D’s. We had gone in search of an ATM and ended up driving into Berlin (which was not part of the plan). We set the GPS to go back to the hotel and saw a McD’s right on the route. We went in, wondering if the staff would be able to understand us. What we found were the electronic ordering board we have at home. After a minute, we noticed that we could switch the language to English. Hoping to find something different than the offerings in California, I ordered a hamburger Royal.

Turns out it is just a ¼ pounder with cheese. I really didn’t mind, I was just looking to eat something. They also offered a chicken sandwich that looked a lot like the original chicken sandwich at Burger King, I thought about giving that a try, maybe next time we are in Germany.

So, it wasn’t a life changing experience, but I still think we will wander into a McDonald’s when we visit France in the Spring.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Arriving in Berlin

We arrived at Los Angeles International Airport around 4pm. Our flight boarded at 6:45, we arrived at least 3 hours before our international flight as the airline advised. 

Parking and check-in were fine (see previous post). We were in the “cheap seats” so we were among the last to board. 

We lucked out, there was still some space in the overhead storage, so we were able to put our carry-on luggage there. 

Now if you have read any of my previous critiques of air travel, you might have noticed that I’m not a fan of the ever-shrinking economy seat and reduced leg room. 

So, after flying from Los Angeles to Berlin, let’s just say we arrived a bit tired. Ok, we were completely exhausted. 

Now in my exhaustive research, I had learned that rather than use a currency exchange, I should just use the ATM in the airport once I arrived in Germany, to save any currency exchange charge. 

Seemed like a good idea, since my debit card has no foreign exchange fees. 

Should have been an easy task. 

We went to baggage claim and retrieved our checked baggage without any issues. 

Once we recovered the rest of our belongings, I looked for an ATM. 

At this point, I have to say Berlin-Brandenburg might be the nicest airport I have ever been in. 

In the airport, heading from baggage claim to the rental car desks. 

I know it’s still pretty new (opened about two years ago), but it seemed to be so clean, friendly and welcoming. Not to mention the lack of crowds.

I saw a sign for the ATM, but it seemed to be directing us to the currency exchange booth. 

It that point, I just decided to find an ATM in town, and headed to the rental car counter. 

We had no problem picking up the car, went to the parking garage, managed to find our way out of the garage, and headed to the hotel, only about 10 minutes away. 

The one issue we had was with the navigation system. I paid good money to have a vehicle with a local nav system. I had read that you should make sure the rental company reset the system for the proper area and language. 

Unfortunately, there were no employees in the garage. 

I tried to reset the language on the system, but I couldn't read the instructions (turns out the last renter was Dutch). I tried guessing what the buttons/instructions meant. You can guess how well that went. 

Even though we couldn't read or understand the directions, the nav system did have a great backup camera with an overhead view.

So, we ended up using google maps to find the hotel. We checked in, put our stuff in the room and went downstairs for a drink.

After a couple glasses of wine, I had an idea. I went back out into the cold to the car. I used my phone and google translate to decipher the instructions and reset the system. 

I did feel an odd since of victory.